Fear & Trust

Any second they will be taking me back for surgery to repair my spine…posterior-lumbar-interbody-fusion-surgery1

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

God’s love for us is the strongest power in existence and nothing can separate us from it; my greatest strength comes from knowing that! The weeks and days leading up to this surgery have sent my mind into overdrive, sometimes causing my peace to escape my grasp.

To overcome my fear, there came a point where I had to trust God enough to take care of any problem I might face.trust-god

God is the ultimate Shepherd and He protects His flock. Nothing’s impossible for Him and when we bring our physical, spiritual and emotional needs before God, He hears our cries and His power is made perfect in our weakness.
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When we stay focused on God, peace surrounds every step we take, but when we allow life to take our eyes off of Jesus, we open ourselves to attack. Things like depression, transitions, and loss begin to permeate our lives. Next, our anxiety, stress, and thoughts over money, time, work and the countless other things we must manage begin to manage us until they bring us to our knees.

In this life, we are bound to have trouble, but Christ has already overcome the world and He only sends the toughest battles to His strongest soldiers.
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I thought my battle would only be a chapter of my life, but it has turned into a book; one that is full of miracles and endless stories of God’s grace and mercy. When God is for us, there is nothing that can ever stand against us.

Speak these words to the next adversary that tries to rob your peace!

My Daughter, My Miracle

1 year birthday
A year ago today was one of the happiest days of my life as I witnessed the birth of my daughter. At the time, I had no clue how much my life was going to change. Becoming a father has already provided some of the highest and lowest times of my life, but if given the chance to do it all over again, I would gladly choose to do so!
I can still remember each moment, as if it was happening right before my eyes. I can still sense the mood in the room changing as my little girl was rushed to the NICU. As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, watching people arrive at the hospital, give birth and then go home with their newborns was very hard to watch and when we had to leave the hospital without our little angel, it was even harder. No parent should ever have to leave the hospital without their child. There was such a feeling of distance between us; add to that our fear, anxiousness, nervousness and you had an emotional hot mess. It was so hard to be thankful when all I was doing was worrying. People would ask how we were doing and we would say fine, but all that really meant was we were freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional. It was only when I began to rely on God solely that I began to rise above my circumstances despite them. I would claim Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all my needs” because being anxious accomplishes nothing; instead we are to be in prayer about everything.
When we bring our needs before the Lord, the God of comfort and the God who provides, He will give us peace that transcends all understanding and He will make a way where there is no way. Living with extreme pain this last year, due to a vehicle accident that broke my back, I have been a prisoner of pain. Finally though, God has brought the surgeon into my path that will bring God the glory in healing me. I will finally be able to hold my little girl again without pain coursing through my body. Walking through these seasons full of bittersweet blessings, sometimes my human nature caused me to try and think my way out of my problems, instead of relying on God solely, as I did one year ago when He healed my sweet daughter. God is with us always, but when we constantly dwell on our problems; our peace can elude us as we replay our circumstances over and over again in our minds. I can still remember as new parents, wanting to hold and nurture Sydney; instead we were subjecting her to spinal taps and other painful tests. Having her in the NICU was not part of the dream I had envisioned, but I still trusted God. There were days we had no tears left to cry, but as long as I stayed focused on God who is mighty to save, I kept it together, but when I didn’t, my sadness turned into panic, anxiety, and fear.
The longer we were in the NICU, the more I picked up on subtle things I had not previously noticed. Obviously, one of the first things we could tell was the sex of other people’s babies based on if the parent’s bracelets were pink or blue. Also, if they had multiple ID bracelets, it meant they had twins or triplets. As each day passed, my bracelet became so worn you could barely read Sydney’s name or birthday. One of the saddest things I saw during our time there was a mother who had two bracelets one day and the next day I saw her, she only had one. I later found out that one of her babies had passed away during the night. No matter how worn my bracelet got or how beat down I felt, I remember never wanting to take my bracelet off.
I can remember how weak I would feel going back and forth to the hospital and it reminded me of the story in Matthew 14:30 when Peter got out of the boat to walk on water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on water, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to look around, he began to sink. The same is true with the problems we face; if we stay focused on God, He will sustain us, but when we look to our own ways, we are sure to sink. Joel Osteen wrote, “In the natural realm we exchange money for the things we want and need, but in the spiritual realm, faith is what we exchange.” You see, our faith pleases God and it opens doors that no man can, especially when we are walking through the storm of the century. When we obey the word of God and believe His promises are true, we strengthen our faith and as it grows, God is able to do things in and through us we never could imagine. Looking back over this last year, one thing is abundantly clear: God loves us and He wants the best for us, even if that means we have to walk through painful seasons. As long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and trust His plan, it doesn’t matter what the world tries to throw at us. I encourage you to stop looking to the world for answers and start looking to the Great I Am, the One who made the heavens and the earth. In Him you will find peace and you will know rest as He comforts you in His outstretched arms. He will never give us more than we can handle and He will give us just enough strength, mercy and grace to make it through each new day.

What Now?

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I’ve heard that as Christians, our life can be best described like a rose: at the end is something beautiful, but along the way it can be full of thorns.  This last week for me has been a considerable thorn as I fought a severe infection and am just now beginning to regain my strength.  Being sick for this amount of time really got me thinking about rising up and overcoming adversity.  For many of us, we are stuck in a state that God did not intend for us to stay in, one in which we never move forward.  We may be one step from victory, but we are paralyzed by our diagnosis.

We have all received news of what we have or what’s wrong with us coupled with instructions on what to do and not to do, but getting our diagnosis is just the first step.  As a believer in Christ, there is something in us that is so much bigger than us, but many of us can’t understand why we do the things we do.  It’s like the apostle Paul said, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”  As a follower of Christ, our ultimate diagnosis comes from Him alone.  He is Jehovah Rophe, our divine healer and it was through His suffering that He purchased for us the Spirit and showed us an ultimate expression of His love.  Christ was the atonement for our sins; He was pierced through our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, and by the stripes that were laid across His back we are healed.

It is only when Christ remains the focal point of our life that when we receive news that crushes us or when we have been besieged from all sides and are completely worn down that we still know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will neither leave nor forsake us and that He is with us always.  Despite our diagnosis and through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we can rise above any oppression.  If there is a mountain in our way, He will either move that mountain or He will give us wings to soar high above it.  It is all a matter of His will and this is an important reality check.  That mountain might be exactly where it is supposed to be in order to change us and that mountain might have to be moved one boulder at a time.  This might be a hard pill to swallow for many, but Jesus never told us life was going to be easy; in fact, He told us it was going to be hard and it is by walking through life’s challenges and trials that we are transformed into His image.

What we must do in the midst of whatever is going on is have faith in His plan and wait upon the Lord, because when we do, He will give us new strength.  Bad things happen to good people, but when the Lord is by our side, when we run, we will not get tired, and when we walk with Him, we will not grow weary.  The more the world and life rise up against us and the more our adversity seems to weigh us down and burden us, the more God will renew us and give us a new song of praise to sing as He pours out new life and hope into us.  Trust takes time, but when we can look beyond our circumstance and put our faith in God, He will give us wings to soar like the eagles.  To God be the glory!

Keep Your Head Up

Despite how far I’ve come and how bright I know my future in Christ is, I still find myself discouraged from time-to-time.  Life has a way of beating and wearing us down and regardless of past successes, there will come a time that our happiness and joy will be tested.  Often, when I feel discouraged, it is accompanied by a sense of feeling lost and sometimes hopeless.  Little by little, I feel myself being worn down, and then spread too thin, ultimately being pulled in too many directions, and then burned out. 

It is during these times I must remind myself: there are greater victories in my future than I have experienced in my past and when I can’t see past my setbacks, I end up settling for less than God’s best. In trying times, we must remember that where we are is not where God intends us to stay.  Discouragements are just part of seasons we walk through and when we rise above our despair, we will pass the test, even when it feels like God is a million miles away.  I’ve learned that even when God seems to be silent in my trials, He has never left my side and His arm is outstretched waiting for me to grab hold of Him.  You see, when we don’t allow the enemy to discourage us, one of his greatest weapons has been lost.  He wants us to feel hopeless and not worth saving, but God created us to have life and to have it abundantly.  God’s presence with us is one of His greatest presents to us.

Believe in your heart that today is a new day and regardless what life throws at you, that you are believing God to birth hope, comfort, and peace in you to combat any despair or discouragement.  When we trust Him to be our rock and refuge, He will put a new song in our heart and He will lift us out of any pit of despair we are trapped in.  One of my favorite scriptures in Isaiah 40:31: “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  One of the coolest things about eagles is their ability to fly higher than any adversary.  God gives us this same ability when we put our faith and trust in Him to soar above any attack from the enemy.  When we put our faith and trust in the Lord, we will fly higher than anything meant to harm or destroy us, so trust Him to turn even your discouragement and despair into hope and happiness; His Word promises it!  To Him be the glory, now and forever.